Can you still smell the scent wafting from a freshly opened can of Play-Doh? I can. Many of us grew up with that iconic product and artistic-ability tester. When I received a new set of Play-Doh at Christmas, I couldnâ€™t wait to start my masterpieces. A four-can combo meant hours of mixing and matching, blending and shaping. Prying the lid off the top of a canister revealed a brightly colored column of putty, fragrant with that almost sweet and yet indefinable chemical scent, ready for little fingers to mash and mush.
At first the four solid colored possibilities seemed limitless. â€œIâ€™ll create a prancing horse, or perhaps a house with furniture,â€ Iâ€™d think to myself. But, after the Play-Doh sculptures failed to meet expectations (think more Salvador Dali than Michelangelo), rolling a couple colors together and pronouncing it a snake was good enough. Eventually every lump took on the same sickish looking hue from too much color combining. After an artistic purge little mini lumps showed up for days stuck to the floor, the carpet, and the table. Sometimes even on my little brother. It was a time for creativity and collateral damage was an easy price to pay.
It occurred to me the other day that I have a lot in common with that magical putty. Both of us found new life in the 1950â€™s. Did you know Play-Doh was originally produced as a cleaner for wallpaper in the 1930â€™s? When it was discovered school children liked playing with the putty it was re-structured (so they say) to become a craft toy in the mid-1950â€™s. I was born a few years after that, but at no time–to my knowledge– was I used to clean wallpaper.
Both Play-Doh and I love to mix it up. Both of us make messes too often, and both of us get harder to stretch out as time goes on. Most mornings I wake up and slowly creep out of bed because my joints feel like theyâ€™ve permanently stiffened. For those of you familiar with Play-Doh, do you remember how it got harder and harder to make pliable as time went on? Even if you carefully closed the lid the moisture from the putty dehydrated. Yeah, thatâ€™s me now. A bit lumpier, a lot less moist. Donâ€™t even think about it. The dismal factor is too high.
Iâ€™d love to hear about your favorite childhood toy and why it resonated with you. Please share!